I was holding my baby last night with quite a bit of wonder at how light she is. Carrying her around during the day, I can tell that she weighs more than when she was born, but last night her 9 lbs, 1 oz felt like nothing. She weighs less both of my pets.
Quentin was trying to make her smile, and in his eagerness he put his hands on her head and jerked her face toward his own. I reacted immediately with “Be gentle!” and anxiously looked down to make sure the baby wasn’t harmed. My pediatrician told me a seemingly funny story the other day about how when she was a child she picked up her six-month-old baby sister and dropped her. I laughed and winced.
A few times this week I have found myself inwardly saying “my two-month-old baby.” But she actually is just shy of seven weeks. I am making her older in my mind. It doesn’t come from a lack of appreciation for her tiny milestones or how quickly the days pass, but rather in thinking that “older” somehow means “safer.”
I have found myself several times thinking “If only she were older….” If only she were older, I wouldn’t worry about one of my kids accidentally hurting her. I wouldn’t worry if her body temperature is ok in the extreme heat of summer’s last hurrah. I wouldn’t worry about impending winter and the cold and flu season. I wouldn’t worry about her swaddle somehow coming loose and wrapping itself around her face.
Somehow in my mind, if she is older, she is less vulnerable. A one-year-old will not be smothered by a blanket. A three-year-old won’t choke on tiny toys. A five-year-old knows to hold hands when crossing the street. A seven-year-old knows not to put a fork in a toaster. A ten-year-old understands the dangers of the world.
Losing my two babies made me feel incredibly helpless. Like no matter what I did, I couldn’t protect my babies. It became interwoven with guilt, because my job in being pregnant was to keep them safe and I failed to do that. Losing Nelle was unexpected, but Iris… I felt sometimes that if I hadn’t raced into another pregnancy, I wouldn’t have lost her. And with Autumn I was even more panicked, knowing that we were taking a huge risk with her life.
Now she’s here and I feel like I still cannot keep her safe. Babies are so fragile, both in uterto and when they are born. When I think to myself “If only she were older…” it is much like the moments in pregnancy when I thought “If I can just get to 28 weeks…” Or 32 weeks. Or 36 weeks. It was always the next milestone. But now that she’s here, if I keep looking for that next milestone, I will miss everything that she does today.